Rifle chamber director wants to address the issues
RIFLE, Colorado – Annick Pruett has very definite ideas about the issues facing her community, and she hopes to help with the solutions.As the executive director of the Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce for a little more than a year, Pruett is passionate about what she sees as the needs in the community and how it affects both residents and businesses alike.
“The two biggest issues in this community are housing and labor attraction and retention,” Pruett said. “This use to be an affordable place to live, and even though we’re in a bubble now, we’re going to be affected by what’s going on (with the economy) nationally.”One issue that hasn’t been talked about a great is that of the lack of licensed child care.”The lack of day care is countywide,” Pruett said. “And when you’re looking at bringing businesses here and both people have to work to afford a house, the lack of child care is a huge, huge problem.”Addressing those issues is important to some chamber members. “Over the years, the role of chambers has been changing,” Pruett said. “Typically, the (Rifle) chamber has been known for putting on different events, but the role of a chamber of commerce is to be the voice of the business community. We’re spending too much time on events.”Not that Pruett wants to see the community events go away. It currently helps with the ice fishing tournament in January, the Vivien Raymond golf tournament in May, citywide beautification projects, the Garfield County Fair parade in August, the Rifle Chili Cookoff in October and the hunters information tent in October and November.For chamber members, there is the State of the Community address in February, the annual chamber awards banquet in March, monthly membership meetings and breakfast and lunch business gatherings.
Pruett most recently started a Women in Business Network group that met for the first time in March and meets on a monthly basis.”And beginning this fall we’re starting an energy workshop in partnership with Encana because it’s an industry that impacts everyone,” Pruett said. The chamber operates under contract with the city of Rifle and runs the visitor center at 200 Lions Park Circle where the chamber offices are located. The center is open seven days a week and handles tourism and marketing for the city as well.Promoting Rifle is one of the chamber’s functions, but they’re getting lots of help from write-ups in Outdoor Magazine, Sunset Magazine, the New York Times and AAA, and broadcasts on National Public Radio. “We’re also going to be in Frontier Airline’s in-flight magazine, which has millions of readers,” Pruett said.With a long background in marketing and sales in the broadcast media, Pruett says the chamber job is a perfect fit for her.”What I like best is dealing with the members – we have great members,” she said. “I like being the conduit to help them do more business.”
Her least favorite part is doing the budget.”I have a sales background, and I know how to bring in the beans,” Pruett said with a smile. “But don’t ask me to count the beans.”Having grown up in Oakland, Calif., and worked for a San Francisco advertising agency, Pruett moved to Grand Junction in 1989. She is married to David Pruett, who works as an appraiser in Rifle for Pruett & Associates Realtors. The couple have two children – Makenna, 9, and Dalton, 7. Pruett said Makenna has already shown an interest in perhaps being a future chamber worker herself, volunteering at chamber events such as the Rifle cleanup and the chili cookoff.For now, Pruett says the chamber is very much a part of her future.”I like chamber work,” she shrugged. “It’s addicting. There’s a different challenge every day – you just never know.”
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